Sunday, June 21, 2020

Simple Activities to Boost Kindness and Respect In Your Classroom (FREEBIE ALERT!)

Bucket Filling is a great way to teach students that their words and actions matter.

We can lift someone with a kind word (fill their bucket) or use words and actions to hurt someone and make them sad. (Dipping in their bucket.)

When you help your students focus on filling someone's bucket, you're creating a respectful, caring, and kind climate.  When you have such a positive environment, it's natural that disruptive behaviors are reduced.

A win-win situation for all of us!  I am such a huge fan of bucket filling, that I'm giving all of the activities away for free.  Sign up for my newsletter and get them all today!

We talk about the "POWER" in my class. The power to knock the wind out of someone or put the wind in their sails.  I tell them they have to be brave and use their power for GOOD.

Here are some of the books I read to kick off our Bucket Filling year-long activities.

We love this video in our class and I often hear kids singing it on their own.

I like to play it during snack time and play it often.

One of the year-long Bucket Filling activities I do in my class is to have kids write compliments to each other and place them inside of the buckets. Once I set up the buckets and run off copies of slips, it practically runs itself. (I don't use the Pom Pom system I often see. It's great but my focus is to have the kids to steer this activity...not me.)

How I Implement Bucket Filling:

1. I spend the first few weeks modeling writing compliments for all of my students. They get to see at least 20 examples before they start writing their own.

2. While not an easy concept, I work on teaching them to compliment kind actions...things the person does or says rather then the physical attributes of their friends.

"You helped me tie my shoes so I didn't trip." vs. "You are pretty."
3. The first few times we write our own compliments, I have them write one for a specific person: the person sitting next to you, your math partner, etc. This way, everyone is guaranteed to get one.

Once we're into a month of school, I let the kids write compliments whenever they have free time. I assign for a Do-Now from time to time.

NOTE: The first year I did this, I didn't monitor the notes until I happened to pick one off the floor by the buckets: "Stop picking your nose." Eek!

So now, once a day, I randomly pull out a note and read it to myself in front of the kids, smile, touch my heart if especially meaningful, and put back in all without saying a word. Keeps them focused on PURPOSE of the notes.

As the year progresses, compliments become more meaningful and heartfelt. Such an easy activity to implement and one that parents, kids, and I all love!

I bought my buckets in Michael's about 10 years ago. You can use beach buckets, baggies, lunch doesn't matter what you use as long as the kids fill them up!


Included in my FREE packet are these posters. Which one is your favorite? Mine? Be the Nice Kid.


Here are a few books focusing on Kindness which I love to share with my class.

Here's an anchor chart I made with my kids about a month after introducing Bucket Filling. I want them to have a good sense of what Filling Buckets looks, sounds, and feels like. I like to wait a bit before making this with the class to be sure they understand the concepts presented. Plus, I want these words to be theirs...not mine. (Headers included in free packet!)


Who doesn't love a good headband?


Are You a Bucket Filler is a short book for the kids that also follows a pattern.

Do you share with your friends? You do? Then you are a bucket filler!
Do you help others when they need it? You do? Then you are a bucket filler!

Class books like "We Are Bucket Fillers" are fun for the kids to contribute to and so easy to do! In this book, kids simply fill in their name at the top: ___ is a Bucket Filler. Then they draw and write about how they fill a bucket. (Also a version with no writing included.) Because of the repetitive phrase, kids can at least read half of the book independently.


The below activity can be done at any time. I tend to wait until the second half of the year and have the kids work in small groups to read and complete. Why do kids love little flaps so much?


Another way I keep my Bucket Fillers motivated is to leave one of these certificates on their desks. Kids bring them home and parents have a great visual as a conversation starter. Anything to strengthen the home-school connection is another win.

I've had kids come back from lunch, specials, assemblies, etc. and ask if they can bring one to someone that THEY caught being kind and caring. LOVE IT!


Bookmarks, bookmarks! I never have enough in my room! Very popular in my class!

I run off two colored bookmarks for each child in the beginning of the year. One for school, one for home. Then I have lots of BW bookmarks available that kids can color in school during free time.

Bracelets are huge motivators too!  A badge of honor!


I wrote a little song , BUCKET FILLER, to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb that often becomes a song we sing for transitions. By the time we finish, desks cleared, cleaned up, snacks done, etc. are over. Just another way to keep the Bucket Filling message front and center each day.

Each time we use this Chit Chat, I send it home hoping parents can also have a chit chat about it!

Is there a child you never gets compliments?
Short answer: No.
But in reality, yes.

I have a rule that EVERYONE must get at least one in their bucket before we can take home on Friday. If there are empty buckets, the compliments stay in buckets until following week when we'll check again.

We have some deeper conversations about this:

1. Looking for the good in someone.

2. If you are not getting many, why could that be?

This is hard for First Graders BUT it can be done.

I had a child recently who wasn't kind. To me. To his peers. To teachers. To himself.

Did he get compliments? Yes. But not many. Not deep ones. Not nearly as many as others.

Did he care? Yes. A lot. More about NOT GETTING them than concern about his behavior.

BUT the dialogue started. It helped. His behavior started- slowly- to change.


It's a start, right?


Would you like all of my Bucket Filling activities for FREE? Sign up for my newsletter here and get lots of tips and freebies to help strengthen your classroom community.

Keep on filling those buckets!

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